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A Recount For Measure A? And Maybe A November 2020 Ballot Measure?


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(March 25, 2020, 11:55 a.m., text added Mar. 27, 4;00 p.m.) -- As LBREPORT.com reported yesterday (March 24), the Measure A sales tax extension (sought by LB Mayor Garcia and the City Council, campaign funded mainly by LB's police/firefighter unions) that has been continually trailing since Mar. 3, is now in a virtual dead-heat -- 50% to 50%. As of March 24, it was failing passage by just nine votes ut of nearly 100,000 votes cast.

NO 49,644 50.00%
YES 49,635 50.00%

With only roughly 3,600 ballots countywide remaining to be counted, the L.A. County Registrar recorder/County Clerk is planning to certify the final results Friday March 27. That starts a clock ticking with fast deadlines on a request, if any, for a possible recount.

For reasons specific to Long Beach in this election, it's not clear if there will be a request for a recount, and whether or not there's a recount, there's an additional potential outcome in the hands of LB's Mayor and Council who put Measure A on the ballot in the first place.

Below is an unofficial summary overview of general recount procedures.

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  • Any voter may request a recount but must do so within five days after completion of the official canvass.

  • The County elections official determines the amount of a deposit necessary to cover costs of the recount for each day.

  • The voter filing the request for a recount must provide the deposit before the recount begins at the beginning of each day following, sums required by the elections official to cover the recount cost for that day.

  • If the recount reverses the election result, the deposit is returned.

  • A 2019 publication (Requesting A Recount) by the LA County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk estimated deposit costs for a manual recount range from 4,148.00 per day for one board to $10,825.30 for 8 boards. (A "board" is a group of four persons, chosen by the County elections official, who perform the manual recount.) The elections official determines how many four-person boards are needed to complete the recount in a timely manner.

  • The recount results are null and void unless every vote in the contest is counted.

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That means if Measure A fails passage in the final tally, some supporters of Mayor Garcia's Measure A campaign committee may step forward to request a recount confident they'll be reimbursed by Garcia's campaign committee or others for daily deposit costs if the recount doesn't change the outcome.

However if Measure A prevails and passes with more votes in the final tally, it's not clear who would request a recount. That person would face immediate deposit costs with an uncertain outcome for refund of those costs. There was no organized competitively funded opposition campaign against Measure A. (LB's Reform Coalition focused on Council candidate elections and it's not clear if it would devote resources to pursuing a recount with one of its candidates (Robert Fox) now in a November runoff.)

The County elections official (jn LA, Dean Logan) can also call for a recount if he has reasonable cause to believe ballots have been miscounted (Elections code section 15610) but that's his decision. under his control, not that a voter(s)

Elections Code section 15610: If no election contest is pending wherein a recount of the ballots in a precinct has been or will be ordered, the elections official may order that the ballots voted in the precinct be publicly recounted if both of the following apply:
(a) The elections official has reasonable cause to believe the ballots in the precinct have been miscounted.
(b) The elections official has examined, under oath, the precinct board members or, in the case of ballots counted by a central counting system, the counting board members, and they are unable to explain the returns of their respective precincts.

The bottom line: if Measure A passes in the final tally, that outcome will likely stick (unless the County elections official has reasonable cause to believe ballots were miscounted.) If Measure A fails passage, its supporters may pursue a recount, but that's not certain either...because LB's electeds have another option they may or may not pursue.

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A possible November 2020 ballot measure?

Even with Measure A's revenue, city management has previously indicated taxpayers will face the prospect of future "deficits" (current spending outpacing anticipated revenue.) As a result of COVID-19, large chunks of that anticipated revenue (at least in the short term) may not arrive. Sales tax revenue and hotel room taxes and oil revenue are obviously down, at least for now. At the same time, CA's Public Employee Retirement System (PERS) has sustained losses in its investment portfolio that it may now try to pass along to City Halls. (LB taxpayers would be among the worst hurt as a result of the infamous 2002 O'Neill/Council pension spike.) Although subsequent Councils have changed some previous pension practices, the incumbents have continued to give politically active City employee unions (that helped elect them) generous contractually binding raises.

All of these factors might incline LB's Mayor and Council to put forward a November 2020 ballot measure (coinciding with the high turnout presidential election).

The Mayor/Council would likely frame this as some type of COVID-19 emergency or "recovery" measure, portraying voters' choice in stark terms: if LB voters don't approve a November revenue (tax) measure, the Mayor/Council will make major reductions in city services, (It's not yet clear if the economy would or wouldn't be recovering by November.)

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The incumbents would likely argue that with COVID-19, the City faces unprecedented circumstances beyond their control. That's true, but it's also true that LB's incumbents control their current spending practices. The razor thin Measure A outcome -- a virtual tie despite months of City Hall messaging coupled with a Mayor-run six figure campaign against no funded opposition -- arguably sends the message that a sizable number of LB residents don't agree with some ways their City Hall is spending their money.

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Support really independent news in Long Beach. No one in LBREPORT.com's ownership, reporting or editorial decision-making has ties to development interests, advocacy groups or other special interests; or is seeking or receiving benefits of City development-related decisions; or holds a City Hall appointive position; or has contributed sums to political campaigns for Long Beach incumbents or challengers. LBREPORT.com isn't part of an out of town corporate cluster and no one its ownership, editorial or publishing decisionmaking has been part of the governing board of any City government body or other entity on whose policies we report. LBREPORT.com is reader and advertiser supported. You can help keep really independent news in LB similar to the way people support NPR and PBS stations. We're not non-profit so it's not tax deductible but $49.95 (less than an annual dollar a week) helps keep us online.


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